Training | 23-03-2024

Sunderland University to close glass and ceramics courses

Sunderland University has announced that it is to close its glass and ceramics programme once the current students complete their courses. This means that there will be no recruitment to the undergraduate glass and ceramics course that would have started in September 2024 and current courses will close by summer 2026.

The news follows the January 2023 announcement that the iconic National Glass Centre (NGC) building, where the courses are conducted, would have to close because it needs millions of pounds spent on it to rectify structural issues.

The university said it had been exploring the option of relocating a restructured glass and ceramics programme from the NGC to Priestman Building on City Campus, as part of its work to find alternative locations for activity based in the current NGC building.

It stated, “We commissioned an external project team to produce a feasibility report to assess the scope and viability of relocating, and to provide a high-level cost estimate. The report concluded that moving equipment and undertaking the necessary changes to the building – for example, ventilation and extraction facilities – would cost in the region of £9.4 million.

“Based on this report, and considering the number of glass and ceramics students, the University’s Board of Governors has concluded that relocating glass and ceramics is not financially viable.”

Work to find alternative locations for other activities based at the NGC is ongoing and the university said it remains in active discussion with its key partners, Sunderland Culture and Sunderland City Council, including on the potential to take space in the Culture House.

In the meantime, the NGC building and the activities within it remain open and no decisions have been made regarding the future of the site beyond summer 2026.

A petition the save the NGC has received over 32,000 signatures to date. Jo Howell, who organised it, posted this in response to the latest news: “We stand in solidarity with all of the staff and students. We are distraught to hear that like a thief in the night Sunderland University is taking away our glass and ceramic courses, leading to inevitable loss of highly skilled staff, valued teachers and of course eventually the building itself… We stand with you and we will fight to keep you.”

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